With worry in their hearts, the group set off to the 3 towers. As they neared they noticed scaffolding near the top, and that three towers appeared to still only be partially built. They could hear the sound of sawing. The group held a brief discussion, with Drumm repeatedly suggesting that Aster had best lead the way to check how safe or not it was. The elf reluctantly agreed, and she slunk through the water. The thick mud slowed her down, and Aster had to walk much slower than normal to make sure she didn’t create any waves. She crept up to the nearest tower and stuck herself against the wall, where she began to slide herself closer & closer.
Now that she is nearer, Aster noticed that the towers had no doors at ground level, but there was an old frayed rope that dangled from a window close to 10 meters off the ground (6 squares). As she continued to shift around the tower she saw the back of a Halfling who was busy sawing away at a piece of wood. She critically watched him for a few moments to divine his intention, before she returned to the group & explained.
They decided to hail the builder openly, in the hopes that a non-aggressive greeting may be returned in kind. When they thus approached him, the halfling turned about and looked confused at their entrance.
“Hi guys! Could you come back later? New Erathis isn’t quite ready to be populated yet, and it would be ever so terrible for you to come here before then! I know you must have heard there is a wonderful city to live here … but it’s not ready. Pretty great idea, isn’t it?”
He went on to explain that this was the city he had been building for the past 2 years by himself. He found the stones (as he called them – a successful dungeoneering check revealed them to be existing masonry blocks) nearby, and was using the expert construction knowledge he recently was gifted with to build his own city ‘on the water’. Erathis, for that was his name, explained he was on a personal pilgrimage to reinvigorate the civilisation of Athas, which had been decaying.
The party was very curious about his survival, especially how he avoided Bodach’s People (“these zombies try to colonise my village, but when they see no doors they give up. Not too bright are they? They won’t be building any cities, no siree!”), and what he ate (“Why, the reeds of course! They make a darn fine soup too!” He was very excited to share his Grass Soup recipe with Drumm). In due time they asked about the beast, and Erathis was happy to oblige.
“Oh! You mean that darn skeleton Mekillot? Yeah, I know all about that. It started about a month ago I think. It only comes past somedays, and always goes south-east during the day and then north-west during the night. Some strange pacing, hey? It even broke down once not far from here. Zombies all over the place. Eventually they found this big ball and when it entered the skeleton mekillot it started walking again. Weird, hey?”
When the group requested if they could stay the night, Erathis refused. Crow turned on her female charms (diplomacy natural 20) and he readily agreed, as long as they slept in the same tower. As they were now honourary workers, the team was expected to fetch some rocks to help build. They were given directions, so off they went. Drumm suggested that they skive off work & just laze about, but the rest of the group knew what it meant to earn a bed for the night. They found heavy stone masonry blocks that seemed to be one of the Kalton forts that had been built centuries ago (natural 20 by Crow & Aster). The group, except for Drum, carried stones back for Erathis to aid his project. When Erathis suggested they had enough time to do 1 more run before sundown, Drum requested if he could look out from the towers. He had some difficulty climbing to the door, but when he got up he tapped into his shamanic instincts to sense the mighty beast (1st natural 20 for the beast). Drum realised that it was South East of them, and heading in a Northerly direction. It was walking slowly, and he could feel the faint vibrations run up his feet. When the rest of the party joined him, he passed this on.
Dinner was a strange affair, but in the end Erathis successfully convinced them to try his soup. It tasted bland, but it had some crunchy bits that were surprisingly fulfilling to each. No-one got sick, but one or two people did look a little pale while theey digested it. Whilst they were sleeping, their watch heard the baying of Bodach’s zombie dogs, which could only barely reach New Erathis on a good day. The dogs circled around the towers, following the new scents, before leaving an hour or two later back to Bodach. Morning came, and Erathis left without so much as saying hello to get back to his work.
The group opted to slip out, and they went East until they spotted the beast. It was built from a gargantuan skeleton of a mekillot dirk. Turrets and sharp spires rise crookedly from the drik-shell structure, and a hodge-podge stone tower has been built into and onto its back. It looks as if it has the ability to crawl across sand, scrub plains, salt marshes, and ridged foothills with equal facility.
Wary of any dangers, the group waits and watches.